The 10 best prop bets for Alabama vs. Clemson in the national championship
The prop sheet for Monday's title game is out, and we're making some calls
This year's College Football Playoff National Championship in Tampa, Florida, will be a rematch of last year's thrilling title game between Alabama and Clemson that saw the Tide come out on top 45-40.
The two teams feature some familiar names from last year's game that had big nights, like Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, but there are some new faces and there's more familiarity between the two coaching staffs having played a year ago. With that familiarity -- and the strength of both defenses -- I would be very surprised to see a shootout the likes of last year.
With that in mind, it's time to turn to the prop sheet, where we're looking for the best possible values from the offerings at Bovada, where there are dozens of team and player props available. I'm hoping to stay hot after a 4-1 run in the semifinal games on props, so for the title game I'm handing out my 10 favorite prop bets available.
1. Wayne Gallman UNDER 54.5 yards: Gallman's productivity this season was down, with nine games with fewer than 100 rushing yards. Couple those general struggles with having to go up against the nation's best run defense and I will happily take the Under here. Alabama simply does not allow opponent's running back to beat them. If Clemson's rushing attack is going to find any success, it's going to be by way of creative calls to get Watson and others involved on the ground, not Gallman plowing straight ahead into the teeth of the Alabama defensive front.
2. Deshaun Watson OVER 23.5 completions: I love the Over on completions against Alabama -- Jake Browning cashed last week in the Peach Bowl. Last year, Watson had 30 completions, and while I don't expect him to have the same kind of success as last year, I expect Clemson to throw early and often. Against Alabama, opponents often have to use the short passing game (screens, shovel passes and fly sweeps that count as passes) as an alternative to the run game because it's so hard to run at Alabama. I think Watson has more than 40 attempts in this one and can complete 24.
3. Artavis Scott OVER 4 receptions: I think the Tigers turn to Scott in this game to be one of the primary screen and sweep targets and, with those short receptions, he can fairly easily cover this number. Nine times this season Scott has had four or more receptions, so the likelihood of a push at the least here is pretty good.
4. Mike Williams OVER 5.5 receptions: Williams had 90 receptions this season and had six or more catches in nine games, including seven of the final eight games. He's such a big, physical weapon that I expect Watson to target him early and often both on downfield attempts and also in the screen game to force the Tide's corners to try and tackle him in space.
5. Clemson scores first (+120): Alabama's opponent has scored first in four consecutive games -- including Chattanooga -- and I expect that trend to continue in Tampa. The Tide's offense tends to start slow and teams have most of their success when operating in their scripted plays early in the game against the Alabama defense.
6. Will the team that scores first win the game? NO (+150): This goes along with the previous prop, as Alabama has won each of those games in which the opponent has scored first (and every other game). I think the trend continues and Clemson takes the early lead, but, like every other Alabama game this season, the defense tightens its grip on the Tigers' offense and eventually the Tide's rushing attack gets going in the second half after it's worn down the defense.
7. Will a special teams or defensive touchdown be scored? YES (+125): Alabama is playing, so you take the candy and yes here and move on. The Tide have scored a defensive or special teams touchdown in nine games this season.
8. Jalen Hurts OVER 15.5 completions: I want to start by saying I would wait on this one, as I'd expect the number to drop as more action comes in. This may seem like a lot after Hurts attempted all of 14 passes against Washington, but I expect the Tigers to make Alabama throw it to beat them by loading up the box. Alabama's gameplan last year was to attack the safeties and I think that's the way to go at Clemson this year as well. New OC Steve Sarkisian likes to throw it and will have Hurts pass it more than 25 times and gets this over in.
9. O.J. Howard OVER 3 receptions: I know you're thinking, Clemson wouldn't let Howard beat them again, would they? No, they won't. However, just because Howard won't be streaking down the field uncovered doesn't mean he isn't going to get targets. Howard is a comfortable target for Hurts and, again, against good corners I expect them to try and attack the middle of Clemson's secondary with Howard and company. This might just be a push, but I like him to get to three.
10. Bo Scarborough OVER 69.5 yards: Scarborough has has 90 or more rushing yards in the past three games. When he's the bell cow, he's almost impossible to keep under this number, and even if they put him back into the role of fourth quarter finisher and give him the majority of the late game carries when the defense is tired, I think he tops this. He's a beast and even if Clemson is prepared for him to get the ball, it's really hard to bring down the big man.
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